29 Sept 2013
MY BEST EVER BROWNIE
This is one of those recipes that you come across that just works, not only that, the recipe is simple and results in an amazing moist chocolate brownie cake, that I am made to appear to be an amazing cook, more than I am, because believe me I do not do cakes very well...
3 tbsp cocoa powder
225g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
250g soft creamy cheese
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
(mix the two together)
150g Green & Blacks plain chocolate
Beat the eggs and sugar together until light, pale and fluffy. Melt the butter and mix in the chocolate powder, gently add to the eggs and sugar mix and then fold in the flour gently.
Pour half of the chocolate batter into your pan then layer on the vanilla cream cheese, pour over the rest of the brownie batter covering the cream cheese layer. Bake at 190 degrees for 30-40 minutes until risen and springy to the touch, leave to cool in the tin. Once cooled turn out and top with the chocolate fudge.
TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE FUDGE
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl over a simmering pan of water, leave to cool and thicken, then top the brownie. Once the fudge topping has set cut the block into oblong cakes.
27 Sept 2013
This is one of the most gorgeous delicious corn breads I have every made and eaten. The corn bread is super moist from the onions and sweetcorn and the cheese gives a great depth of flavour, the chillies add a hint of zing which makes this cornbread the best I have ever made.
2 onions finely sliced
1 tsp sugar
4 corn on the cob
4 large eggs
350g cornmeal or polenta
100g plain flour
500ml top gold milk
500g cheddar cheese grated
5 red chillies de-seeded and finely sliced
Large pinch sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. In a frying pan melt the butter and a dash of ooil, add the onions and gently fry for approx. 20-30minutes, after 20mins add the sugar and cook on until they are wonderfully caramelised, golden brown and sticky.
I love to take my corn off the cob, it really does make a huge difference to the flavour, so holding the cob upright on the board I run my knife from top to bottom cutting off all the kernels. Add these to your onions and cook for a further 5 or so minutes.
In a large bowl place our eggs, milk, baking powder, flour and cornmeal, season with salt and pepper, add most of the grated cheese and chillies mix gently but well then add the slightly cooled onion mix.
I like to use a tall cake tin greased and lined with greaseproof paper. Fill your mixture into the tin and bake for approx 35 minutes in your oven, 10 minutes before it's ready pull it out and sprinkle with the left over cheese and chillies and return to the oven.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so if you can, I am often impatient at this point because I want a warm moist slice of this delicious cornbread straight form the oven, let alone stop my husband from diving in. The corn bread is best serve immediately from the oven but you can cook in advance and serve on the same day, and it will still be a show stopper.
26 Sept 2013
This is a gorgeous way of cooking your Sunday roast, only takes a couple of minutes to prepare and then you can sit back and relax with your family and friends, while your oven does all the work. You cannot beat the depth of flavour this style of cooking gives.
2 half shoulders of lamb
1 bottle of Beaujolais village or claret
1000ml lamb stock
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tbsp pink peppercorns crushed
5 cloves of garlic whole
1 onion quartered
6 carrots peeled whole
1 leek rough chopped
2 stalks celery
1 tbsp red current jelly
1 leek rough chopped
2 stalks celery
1 tbsp red current jelly
King Edward potatoes peeled and halved
salt and pepper
oil or fat for roasting the potatoes
150g cold butter cubed
Brown off the lamb in a hot roasting tin on the hob, once browned off add the carrots, leeks, celery, onion, garlic, rosemary, lamb stock and red wine, season the top of the lamb shoulders with some salt, pepper and the pink peppercorns. Cover your roasting tin with tin foil and place the lamb in the oven at 160 degrees for 3-4hrs, this will give you fall of the bone juicy tender red wine braised lamb full of flavour with a lovely stock gravy.
For the fabulous rich gravy, pass all the roasting juices through a sieve into a large shallow pan and reduce by half add the red current jelly then whisk in some of the cubes of butter, stop adding butter once your gravy coats the back of a spoon and has a glossy finish. Taste and season if needed.
24 Sept 2013
Love fajitas, chicken, steak, prawn, fine vegetables or a combination of two or three! This is one of those sharing dinners, with lots of side dishes that allow you to make your fajitas to your own liking, and creates fun conversation over gorgeous food with great people.
4 chicken breasts sliced
1 red pepper sliced
1 green pepper sliced
1 onion sliced
1 chilli sliced
1 lime quartered
16 6" flour tortillas
1 iceberg lettuce fine shredded
chopped tomato and cucumber mixed (salad)
1 pot sour cream
(side dips below)
FAJITAS SPICE MIX
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp corn masa flour
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp chilli pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
pinch of sea salt
4 tbsps of ground nut oil
1 lime juiced
Mix or grind all the dry spices together and then add the oil.
In a bowl add the lemon juice and then your choice of chicken, prawns, steak or fine vegetables and mix well, then add the spices and oil and leave to marinated for a few hours if you can.
FOR THE SALSA
1 tin tomatoes
1 lemon juiced
1 tsp sea salt
2 red chillies
1 lrg tbsp tom puree
20 sprigs of fresh coriander
Place all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth, taste and you can adjust the seasoning with the lemon juice, coriander and salt. Chill until needed, this is also great as a dip with corn chips.
2 ripe avocados
1/2 lemon juiced
1 roasted red pepper fine chopped
1 clove garlic grated
sea salt and black pepper
Mix all ingredients together and season to taste with the salt, pepper and lemon, the lemon juice will also help keep the guacamole from oxidising for a while.
TO COOK THE FAJITAS
If you have cast iron skillets for serving your fajitas sizzling, place them on your hob now on a medium hot heat.
Place all the dips, iceberg lettuce and salad on your table ready to go, along with your plates and cutlery, then pop the flour tortillas in the oven for a couple of minutes to warm up or warm them individually on a dry griddle, place in a flour tortilla warmer or wrap in a tea towel to keep warm.
In a hot wok add the marinated chicken and stir fry until 3/4 cooked, let some of the spices just catch, this is known as blackening the spice and is a Cajun cooking method, the trick is to add flavour but not a burnt flavour, add approx 50ml of water this will lift the spices off the bottom of the wok and de-glaze the pan releasing all the flavours back into the fajitas.
Add the peppers and onion and stir through for a couple of minutes, now you are ready to serve. Place your hot hot hot skillets on their wooden platters and divide your fajitas equally, quickly squeeze a quarter of the lime juice over the chicken as this will add some zing and sizzle to your fajitas platters as your serve.
I have a rather set routine when it comes to loading my tortilla, I like to spread a little guacamole and sour cream first, then load with crispy iceberg lettuce and the cucumber and tomato salad, next I add the chicken fajitas, peppers and onions, then drizzle on some salsa, more sour cream and sprinkled with fresh sliced chillies...enjoy.
22 Sept 2013
Fabulous sumptuous one mouthful stuffed zucchini canapes with cream cheese, roasted red peppers and fresh dill or basil, these little one mouthful morsels are gorgeous for your gluten free and vegetarian guests, make extra though, as everyone will want to eat these.
A pleasure to make and so simple, very Moorish too! These can be made up in advance and kept in the fridge, take them out to come up towards room temperature about an hour before serving.
2 large equally sized zucchinis
1 red pepper
1 spring onion finely chopped
1 small bunch dill
baby basil leaves
1 plastic lrg food bag
dash of ooil
First I like to roast the red pepper over a open gas flame if you can, if not a hot non-stick pan will do, char most of the skin of the red pepper until black, place in the food bag and seal, the heat will cause condensation and this will allow the skin to peel of easily. Once cooled peel the skin and de-seed, finely chop. The roasting of the pepper is going to add a great depth of flavour to your canapes.
With a potato peeler, peel wide slices of zucchini, when you get near the centre rotate the zucchini 90 degrees and repeat, you should be able to do this four times. Take the biggest slices and place on your griddle, as the zucchini is so thin you only have to griddle one side, once charred place on kitchen roll flat to cool.
Take your cream cheese, I like to use a slightly sour cream cheese, spread onto the zucchini, sprinkle over some of the spring onion and roasted red peppers, a little dill or basil and then from the thin end roll up tight, stand the roll up and decorate the top with more dill or basil. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge up to 1 hour or so before you want to serve them.
13 Sept 2013
With this home grown bounty the only thing I want to make is gorgeous hot hot hot sweet habanero chilli jelly jam sauce for adding that extra zing to my food.
4 cups of chillies, (mild, medium or hot) per
1 lb of granulated sugar-
per 1 lb of chilli liquid strained
(not necessary, substitute with a fine sieve or muslin cloth)
Jelly strainer and stand
old jam jars
FIRST MAKE THE CHILLI LIQUID
Place all the chillies in a deep saucepan with three pints of water, bring to a simmer and cook for approx 30 minutes, with a potato masher breakdown all the chillies into the liquid. Leave to cool down then place all the liquid in to your jelly bag strainer or muslin or sieve, let all the liquid collect into a bowl. Once all the liquid has drained, using the back of a ladle push down on the pulp left over in the jelly bag to extract any last drops of deliciousness. Take a couple, or more, tablespoons of the chilli pulp and seeds and add to your chilli liquid and return to a deep thick base jam pan or like me I use my pressure cooker saucepan.
Bring the chilli jam up to 105 degrees on your jam thermometer and boil at this level for a few minutes, then take off the heat and leave to cool slightly while you sterilise your jars.
To sterilise you jars wash and dry then pop in the oven for 5 minutes or so, using a jam funnel pour your hot jelly into your warm jars, place on the lids and as the jars and jelly cool you will hear the satisfying pings of the air tight seal setting itself, this you can check by pushing the centre of the jar lids if they pop up and down then the jar is not sealed.
11 Sept 2013
So pleased to have my oven back up and running, even if I am finding she is a little more efficient, maybe than we should be? Within 45minutes she is holding a steady 700 degrees, so maybe I need to slow down my feeding of the fire and let her go up to come back down quickly and try to keep her at around 500 degrees. Have burnt a few loaves and one pizza spontaneously combusted!
BETTY'S SOUR DOUGH CULTURE LOAF
(search engine top right corner for recipe - sourdough culture)
300g sourdough culture (Betty)
230ml warm water
That is all it takes to make the most wonderful perfect natural loaf of bread! Place the flour and salt on your work top and make a well in the centre, add the sourdough culture and water into the well and then make your hand like a beak and in a circular motion slowly incorporate the flour into the wet liquid until you have a sticky mass.
Don't feel tempted to add any flour, I know I did the first time I used this method, but the more you work the dough the less sticky and spring it will become.
To fold air in to the dough, lift the dough up like a child under the arms and then throw the dough forward away from you, without letting go of the piece you are holding, when it hits the work top and sticks then with the dough that is still in your hands pull back a little and throw forward like the crest of a large rolling wave, and then roll the dough back towards you, in effect you are creating a whole circle, which is allowing you to fold and trap air inside the dough.
Do this for 7-10 minutes until your dough is smooth and springy to touch, you may sprinkle a hint of flour towards the end of the kneading if required.
Place in your floured proving basket or bowl and cover, leave to rise for 4hours or more, when ready to cook, pre-heat your oven with a pizza stone (230 degrees), or your wood fired oven 300 degrees. Gently tip the dough out onto the cooking surface and bake for 15-25 minutes until lovely and crusty and you have the traditional hollow tapping sound from the base.
10 Sept 2013
FOR THE DOUGH
500g strong plain flour
FOR THE TOMATO BASE
1 shallot finely diced
1 garlic clove grated
8 fresh tomatoes rough chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano
FOR THE DEEP DISH FILLING
4 balls of buffalo mozzarella
600g grated mozzarella cheese
36 slices of pepperoni
4 tbsp tomato base
4 straight sided cake or pie tins
First make the dough, there is no shame in knocking this up in your mixer with a dough hook, if I have time I love to bring the dough together by hand as I find this method really therapeutic and satisfying. Bring all the ingredients together and knead for 6 minutes, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 1 hour out on the side or up to 48hrs in the fridge, and yes the dough will prove in the fridge, in fact it proves slower which gives the dough a better crispy and chewy texture. When you are ready to use the dough form into 4 balls and leave to settle for 15 minutes before rolling out.
FIRE UP YOUR PIZZA OVEN
In the event you don't have a pizza oven, get a pizza stone, tile or cast iron pan placed upside down so you can cook on the base., in your oven and pre heat the oven to the hottest setting 240 degrees plus.
THE TOMATO BASE
Gently soften the onion and garlic in ooil for 5 minutes or so, add the chopped tomato's and cook until all pulpy and reduced to a thick sauce, add the oregano and season with salt and pepper.
Take you ball of dough and using the tips only of your fingers press the dough down pushing out one third of the way in, do this in a circle motion like you are making a track, keep doing this and you will find that the dough becomes a bigger circle and you get the characteristic rolled crust, once it is the same size as your pie baking tin, place the dough in and squidge the crust up the sides of the dip like you would for pie pastry.
Now the fun bit, filling the pie, I like to place some of the tomato base on first, then grated mozzarella, then the meats, then more grated cheese followed with one whole torn buffalo mozzarella ball finished off with a little drizzle of tomato base to finish.
Bake in the wood fired oven, 450 degrees for approx 5-7 minutes until the cheese is bubbling hot and the crust is browned, if in a domestic oven this pie takes approx 15-20 minutes.
9 Sept 2013
Velvety smooth creamy custard with the traditional caramelised Demerara sugar hard crust. Crème Brulee has been eaten since the seventeenth century and was known as burnt cream.
500ml single cream
200ml top gold milk
130g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
5 egg yolks
1 egg white
100g Demerara sugar
This is a really simple recipe to follow, pre heat your oven to 120 degrees. In a saucepan gently bring almost up to a simmer but not, the cream, milk, half the sugar and the vanilla pod and seeds, take off the heat and leave to infuse for a few minutes, then pass through a sieve into a jug.
Whisk together the rest of the sugar with the egg yolks and white until thick and creamy, with the whisk on low speed slowly pour in the hot milk into the egg yolk mix. Whisk well and now pour in to your eight ramekins, place the ramekins into a roasting dish and 2/3 fill the dish with water and pop in the oven until set for approx. 1hr 15 minutes.
Chill the custards and when ready to serve, sprinkle on the Demerara sugar to just cover the surface and either pop under a really really hot grill or using a blow torch caramelise the Demerara sugar. I have tried this both ways and with out a professional grill I found the Demerara sugar did not caramelise as well as with a blow torch, and if I am honest it is much more fun with the blow torch, must be the excitement of fire ! Serve immediately.
8 Sept 2013
London Grannies mustard and lemon mini Cornish dressed crab, butter pan fried crevettes, Tabasco oysters, princess scallops pan fried in nutty butter, mollet quail eggs seasoned with celery salt and cayenne pepper finished off with caviar for my dad's birthday
FOR THE MINI DRESSED CRABS
4 mini crab shells or dishes
1 ptn Cornish crab meat white and brown
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 lemon zest and juice
salt and white pepper
hint of dill
1 tbsp mayo
Very simple, season the crab with the salt, pepper, then mix the mayo, mustard, lemon zest and juice together and gently fold in the crab meat to the mayo mix, put the crab meat back in the shells and finish off with a sprig of dill and maybe a hint of lemon.
FOR THE CREVETTES
4 per person
Melt your butter and ooil in your frying pan until it is just bubbling then add your crevettes and cook for approx. 2 minutes on each side only turning once, these are easy to see when just cooked as they change colour from blue to pink, don't be tempted to over cook as the crevettes will become rubbery.
FOR THE PRINCESS SCALLOPS
5 per person with shells
Melt the butter until frothy in your frying pan and then add the scallops, pan fry for 1 minute on each side and then remove and put the scallop in the shells and spoon over some of the nutty butter.
2-4 per person
1 bottle Tabasco sauce
1 wedge of lemon
Simplicity and honest flavours at their best, shuck the oyster when ready to eat, seasoned the oyster with a dash of Tabasco sauce, a squeeze of lemon and enjoy immediately.
MOLLET QUAIL EGGS
3 per person fresh quail eggs
celery salt with cayenne pepper
Bring a deep pan of water to a rolling boil, season with salt and then gently slide in the quail eggs for 2 minutes, remove on the mark and run under cold water for 2 minutes, this is really important, as it cools and stops the cooking process, which keeps the white cooked and the yolk soft and just runny. Once cooled season with a pinch of celery salt and cayenne pepper.
For the presentation, all I did was take a large dish or plate and put a small glass in the centre, I then filled the dish with crushed or bashed ice, I then place a smaller side plate on top of the glass and then placed all the different cold fish on the ice and the warm princess scallops on the top plate.
Beautiful 12 bone rack of venison simply cooked in the wood fired oven which added even more depth of flavour to this glorious dish.
1 12 bone rack of venison
salt and pepper
FOR THE POMME PUREE
1kg King Edward potatoes
full fat milk
salt and white pepper
FOR THE CUMBERLAND SAUCE
1 shallot fine diced
1 clove garlic fine diced
4 Blood oranges zest and juice
2 lemons zest and juice
50g ginger grated
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
500ml ruby red port
800g red current jelly
First make the Cumberland sauce gently pan fry the shallot and garlic in a little ooil and tsp of butter, meanwhile zest the oranges and lemons and place in a jug pour over some boiling water and leave for 60 seconds only, then drain, juice the oranges and lemons and add to the zest along with the grated ginger, cinnamon, bay and port and add to the onions, simmer to reduce by 1/2, now add the red current jelly and simmer until you have a thickish consistency like honey.
Next make your pomme puree, peel and boil the potatoes in salted water until very very tender, drain and leave to steam dry for a few minutes, meanwhile place a pan on your lowest heat and add the milk and butter to the pan to warm up. Push the potatoes through a ricer into the pan and gently mix into the milk and butter, season with salt and pepper, now leave to tick over keeping warm while you cook the venison.
WOOD FIRED COOKING THE VENISON
As the wood fired oven is running at 500 degrees I used this heat to sear the outside of the venison and add wood fired flavour, I then moved the venison to the cooler part of the oven and let it cook for 15 minutes so it would be rare, for medium rare 18 minutes and for medium to well done 25 minutes. Leave to rest for 5 minutes wrapped in tin foil before serving.
4 Sept 2013
REPAIRED AND LOOKING AS GOOD AS NEW
WAHOO, so excited the builders turned up this morning and within 4hrs my glorious pizza oven who I really should name! was all fixed with a new supporting RSJ floor built up from underneath with an old fashioned lime cement insulating barrier, this is what fire places were built from in days gone by and can withstand the heat that this little beauty has been firing out.
Every time I look at my gorgeous pizza oven I feel very pleased that I built her myself, this is enough for me, I felt I could have builders in to repair her and here are the boys, it only took them 4 hours and what a glorious job they have done. They built two new walls inside the log storage part so that they could slide on five concrete RSJ's, then puged up the new supporting floor with lime cement from underneath, then working from inside the pizza oven, they were able to re-lay the fire brick pizza oven cooking floor into the pug. Hopefully this will support the rest of the base that the pizza oven is sitting on from cracking under the heat.
What a beautiful sight, I can not wait to start cooking again, however I am not allowed to fire up the oven until Saturday...Three days away.........Now all I have to do is think of something spectacular to cook for her first day back, then I feel another pizza party before the summer is over...